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Unit information: German Expressionism in 2020/21

Unit name German Expressionism
Unit code HART30035
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Price
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of History of Art (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit will explore the birth, development and legacies of German Expressionism within the context of twentieth century visual culture in Europe. The art of the era will be explored in relation to the cultural, social and political contexts of its production. Topics may include, but will not necessarily be restricted to, some of the following: From Secession to Expression; Art and Urbanism in Berlin; Paths to Abstraction; ‘Primitive’ and Modern; War and Destruction; Revolution and Rebellion; Cool Conduct; Gender and the Public Sphere; Mass Culture and the Avant-Garde; Degeneration and Despair. Artists to be considered may include: Max Liebermann; Paula Modersohn-Becker; Käthe Kollwitz; Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Die Brücke; Kandinsky and Der Blaue Reiter; George Grosz, Hannah Höch and Dada; The Bauhaus; Otto Dix, Christian Schad; Art and Cultural Policy in the Third Reich.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate in-depth and detailed knowledge and understanding of the birth, development and legacies of German Expressionism;
  2. work with primary sources;
  3. integrate both primary and secondary source material into a wider analysis;
  4. select pertinent evidence/data in order to illustrate/demonstrate more general ideas;
  5. identify a particular academic interpretation, evaluate it critically and form an individual viewpoint;
  6. demonstrate advanced writing, research and presentation skills appropriate to level H.

Teaching details

Classes will involve a combination of discussion, investigative activities, and practical activities. Students will be expected to engage with readings and participate on a weekly basis. This will be further supported with drop-in sessions and self-directed exercises with tutor and peer feedback.

Assessment Details

One digital presentation (25%) One timed assessment (75%) [ILOs 1-5] 

Reading and References

Eberle, Matthias World War One and the Weimar Artists: Dix, Grosz, Beckmann, Schlemmer, (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1985)

Heller, Reinhold, Brücke: The Birth of Expressionism in Dresden and Berlin 1905 -1913 (New York: Neue Galerie 2009)

Lloyd, Jill German Expressionism: Primitivism and Modernity (New Haven and London: Yale UP 1991)

Paret, Peter German Encounters with Modernism 1840-1945 (Cambridge, CUP,2001)

West, Shearer The Visual Arts in Germany 1890-1937: Utopia and Despair (Manchester, MUP, 2000)